Iraq Halts Pumping of Kirkuk Oil into Turkey Pipeline
KIRKUK, Iraq, March 14 (Reuters) - Iraq's state-run North Oil Company has stopped pumping crude produced at fields it operates in the Kirkuk area through a pipeline to Turkey, three sources said on Monday.
The pipeline carries crude to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, where the Kurds have been selling it independently on the international market, along with oil produced in their autonomous region.
North Oil normally exports 150,000 barrels a day through the pipeline.
The order to halt pumping through the pipeline came from the oil ministry in Baghdad, according to an NOC official, who asked not be identified. "There is no technical failure, it's a decision from Baghdad," he said.
The oil ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Kurdish forces took control of the long-disputed Kirkuk and its oil fields in June 2014 after the Iraqi army's northern divisions disintegrated as Islamic State militants overran a third of the country.
Since then, NOC has continued pumping crude through the pipeline, which was idle for more than three weeks.
Ahmed Askari, the head of the energy and industry committee in the Kirkuk provincial council said flows were halted hours after the pipeline reopened on Friday.
North Oil is continuing to produce the crude, but storing it in Kirkuk instead of exporting it through the pipeline, the NOC source said.
(Reporting by Mustafa Mahmoud, Isabel Coles and Saif Hameed.; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Susan Thomas and Alexander Smith)
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